Preserving papers: Student newsrooms at risk

vintage black and white photo of 1959 Sundial Staff happily posing
Daily Sundial staff circa 1959 (File Photo)

The First Amendment and the Freedom of the Press allow journalism outlets to publish stories with the liberty to speak openly and without fear of government restraint. This philosophy carries over into the academic setting through student newspapers, which must remain at least partially free from financial support from student government or the university itself to maintain the freedom to report upon these organizations with impunity.

At many student newspapers across the country, this ability is being threatened by budgetary constraints. Increasingly, these organizations are needing to turn to their host university for funding. The importance of a student newsroom is often overlooked; there is immense value associated with student-run journalism. It is a voice for students, a voice that can have a strong impact on students’ college experience and educational quality.

An independent newsroom is intended to have little to no financial ties to the college, meaning that the paper can contain stories that present the school in good or bad light without any serious repercussions. However, due to this no strings attached relationship, some student newspapers are often left struggling to find sponsorship.

Students have the right to discuss the issues that lie on their campus and we have the right to discuss it with the public – you! Without this right, without this independent funding, our ability to present to you a look into the workings of your school is severely compromised. How easy would it be for a negative article about one of the university higher-ups to be followed by a budget cut in the following semester? It is the same disadvantage, the same corruption that occurs when national government has a say in the workings of large-scale press outlets. It leads to corruption. It leads to silence.

The Sundial is fortunate to be maintained largely by ads, although we also receive partial funding from the university. Many university newsrooms are not so fortunate, which has produced a media movement – #SaveStudentNewsrooms. We have a passion and compassion for our community because the Freedom of the Press leads to freedom for the people, freedom for students to control their education.

This paper is run by CSUN students. Students write the articles you read, students attend meetings to delve into recent events, students hunt down sources, students stay in the newsroom long into the night to ensure you get your print edition each week – all while juggling college courses. We ask that you raise awareness of the impact that losing these independent student newspapers may have on other universities and we ask that you remain aware of the value you, as a reader, have on maintaining the freedom of this paper to bring CSUN into the light.

Thank you.

– The Sundial